Now is the Best Time in History to be a Publisher

Now is the Best Time in History to be a Publisher

Eytan Elbaz

When you imagine the newsrooms of traditional media organizations, you might think of a conference room filled with young, hungry journalists pitching ideas to a mature editor who had spent years working his way up the ranks. Or perhaps you think of an Editor-in-Chief walking over to the pit early in the morning, assigning today's stories to the up-and-coming writers.

Render Media is one of the fastest-growing publishers on the planet, and none of that happens at our company.

Publishers like us who were born in the age of real-time metrics don't go by gut; we go by data. The numbers tell us if a story is interesting, if a topic is shareable, if a user will click. We are focused on telling the best stories we can, fueled by hundreds of data-driven decisions every day. We use these data to select daily stories, choose the best formats to tell those stories, and determine the right time and (electronic) place to deliver those stories.

Editors used to spend years developing their natural and core instincts to select the best stories for the day: what would sell papers, what would catch the reader's interest, what would make for good water-cooler conversation. Today, an algorithm does that for us.

We can do more experimentation than our predecessors who committed their day's stories to print. We are free to experiment: Experimentation leads to more trial and error. More trial allows us to test new stories or publishing strategies, which leads to innovation.

Real-time metrics allow us to identify and evaluate content quickly and concretely, limiting errors. They also help us discover new editorial direction from performance-based clues of the most successful pieces we release. Data and metrics inform our strategic editorial direction.

BuzzFeed Publisher Dao Nguyen, who headed data and growth, helped the company’s unique monthly visitors quintuple from 28 million to 150 million in her first two years. “Using data properly is a constant stream of experiments and feedback. The human-learning of that is part of the culture that I think is probably the most difficult to replicate,” she told Inc.

Similarly, Render Media’s Cooking Panda channel has grown from 800,000 followers to 2.7 million followers in fewer than 120 days. If we can keep up the pace, that’s an annualized 1,000% growth rate.

Looking at all of the data is interesting, insightful, but also extremely valuable. Using the data is a core component to building one of the fastest-growing publishers on the planet.

In what ways do you see data play a role in the decision to create different kinds of content?